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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               491

Spanish scene shifts in Die Kinder von Guernica (1939) to the Basque
country at the time of the Civil War. The political satire Die
ZwiHinge von Nurnberg (1946) serves for bringing out the light and
the dark sides of life in the thirties. Die fremden Cotter (1949)
switches the study of tyrannical power from State to family, and
here too youth rebels. A Jewish emigre in Nice, a merchant from
Frankfurt, is sent by the Nazis to a concentration camp in France,
while his two daughters are brought up as Catholics in an Italian
convent; the elder daughter is cast off by her father because she
refuses to return to the Jewish faith, but - amor vincit omnia - she
falls in love with a freethinking Jew and listens to reason. The
theme gives Kesten full scope for the qualities that mark him as
a writer - he is satirical, cynical, cold-blooded, witty; his romans
a Mse are stripped of sentiment; all his effort is, not to move the
reader's feelings, but to show how wickedness callously twists the
truth. But the main result is a display of verbal pyrotechnics,
brilliant, but in the long run so much of the same sort that there
is a risk of monotony. Copernicus und seine Welt (1948) is a bio-
graphy which takes into its scope the other protagonists of truth
- Savonarola, Luther, Giordano Bruno, Kepler, Newton - and
lashes out at those in the opposite camp - the Church, the Inquisi-
tion, superstition. Casanova (1952) is also biographical.

Another refugee, ANNETTE KOLB (i 875- ), went to Paris in 193 3,
where she was congenitally at home; indeed she returned to live
there after her return from New York, where she found asylum
while the Germans were in France. This was natural, for she is
bilingual and her culture is half French; she is the daughter of a
French piano virtuosa and a Munich architect in the royal service.
Heredity and upbringing are the deciding factors in her work with
its fine distinction and gentle irony. Herself of royal descent, she
moved in the circles of the high aristocracy which she so easefully
describes, not only of Munich - in her autobiographically tinged
novel Konig Ludwig der Zweite und "Richard Wagner (1947)* w^ *ts
picture of the great composer sinking into loneliness with his
coldly calculating wife Cosima to face - but also of London, where
the heroine of her first novel Das Exemplar (1913), whose heart to
all appearances is closed to love, goes to find the man, now mar-
ried, whom she once loved. Rilke was fascinated by the story, and
Thomas Mann's valuation of the authoress emerges from the fact
that she is known to be the Jeannette Schierl of his DoktorFaustus.